Which Missouri Rivers are Best?

I am planning a trip to Missouri, preferably closer to Springfield, but that is not as important, and I am curious to know which rivers are best. We will be kayaking and possibly camping out. We prefer a river with some current and hopefully even some whitewater, but mild enough to kayak in a short rec boat. We are all experienced paddlers and plan to have a lot of fun. If anyone has any suggestions to offer, please let me know.



Jack’s Fork
I’ve heard that the Upper Jack’s Fork near Eminence is great. Also the Buffalo in Northern Arkansas is supposed to be wonderful. I haven’t done either, but hope to soon.

Opposite Side of the State
Not familiar with rivers near Springfield. I paddle the Current, Jack’s Fork, Black, and St. Francis primarily and they are all 2-4 hours from Springfield. You might try posting this in “Getting together and going paddling” section or “Advice” section, you’ll get more “Hits.” You might also try going to Ozark County Canoe and Kayak website, just do a search to find it. Good people and they’ll get you paddling. Again, they’re probably close to 2 hours from Springfield, but worth the drive. Good luck! WW

not too many by springfield
But you could try:

James River

And some of the others that flow into Table Rock and Taneycomo

or Travel east a couple hours and hit the:

North Fork

Bryant Creek

Eleven Point

Jacks Fork


Missouri Rivers
All the rivers have been mentioned already but FWIW, for proximity to Springfield: The Upper North Fork and the Buffalo. Current is a little farther away. Bill or Janet at Ozark Canoe and Kayak (http://www.ozarkcanoe.com/) can help you with The upper North Fork. That is a good river for tripping and river bank camping. It is spring fed so runnable all year. The Buffalo is best in the spring, especially above Pruitt. Ponca to Pruitt is a beautiful run with lots of side trips to take. It is easy to make that one last 4 days. The history of the Current River provide a lot of sightseeing as well and it is runnable all year.

Have fun no matter which you do.

Old Highpockets

Missouri float
Just finsihed a great five day float on the Jack’s Fork and Current Rivers. Check out this site:www.missouriscenicrivers.com. It has all of the information that you need to plan a good trip. We used the Two Rivers outfitter. The owner, Shane Van Steenis will help you put together any type of trip you like (shuttles, etc.) at a reasonable price.

Sac River
Have you tried the Sac river? The river starts from Stockton dam and can be floated to Truman lake. You will have to time it when they are not releasing water to generate electric. It is a real scenic. There is a old mill ( Caplinger Mill )that you will have to port around. Other then that it is pretty easy going. It’s about an hour north of Springfield. There is Ceder creek and Bear creek too. Bothg of these creeks drains into Sac River.

Happy Canoeing

I think the Eleven Point would meet your
preferences. I ran it in August, and as I had been told by folks at Chicagoland Canoe Base, the Eleven Point still had enough spring fed water to negotiate the occasional class 1 shoals. There are excellent campgrounds maintained for canoeists. On a weekday, the Eleven Point may not be busy at all. Near to the put-in is Greer Spring, second largest in Missouri. I used an outfitter near the put-in for shuttle.

No bad ones yet
I have paddled the Current, Jack’s Fork, Eleven Point, and the Big Piney River (not Big Piney Creek, that is a tough whitewater run) in Missouri and love them all.

But if you’re basing out of Springfield I would have to suggest the Buffalo River in Northern Arkansas. It’s the best river I’ve been on in my life … especially the upper stretches between Ponca and Ozark if there is enough water.

Look at the Buffalo River threads on the Paddlers Place Discussion Forum. You’ll find some threads from PNetters who floated it last week, including some fantastic photos.